A first-of-its-kind look at disability employment released Wednesday indicates that just 1 in 5 people with disabilities are employed and they’re disproportionately working part-time.

According to the report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment hovered at 14.5 percent among those with disabilities in 2009, significantly higher than the 9 percent reported for the rest of the population. Of those who did have jobs, a third had part-time positions compared to 1 in 5 workers without disabilities.

Meanwhile, the vast majority of people with disabilities — 80 percent — were not considered to be in the workforce at all because they were not seeking work. One reason for this may be that half of those with disabilities were over age 65.

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Educational attainment is one factor that appeared to impact a person’s odds of employment. Nonetheless, having a disability persisted as a barrier, according to the data. When educational levels were equal, those with disabilities were still less than half as likely to have a job as those without.

The detailed breakdown represents the most comprehensive picture to date of the employment situation among Americans with disabilities. It stems from data collected in 2009, the first full year of information obtained after the Bureau of Labor Statistics began including those with disabilities in its monthly employment survey in June 2008.

Since that time, employment statistics are released monthly, reflecting people with disabilities over the age of 16 who do not live in institutions. The most recent report, issued earlier this month, indicated that in July the unemployment rate approached record levels at 16.4 percent.

The strikingly low level of employment among those with disabilities will not go unnoticed, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis said in response to the latest figures. She pledged to improve capacity at one-stop career centers and access to other job support services.

“We will make sure that people who want to work can work,” Solis said.

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